Shanghai gets a master class in Italian cuisine
Updated: 2015-12-26 04:18
By XU XU JUNQIAN in Shanghai(China Daily USA)
Massimo Mentasti, executive chef of the La Gallina in northern Italy’s Gavi region.
Massimo Mentasti was one of the latest top chefs to grace the culinary scene in Shanghai, having spent two days in the city starting Dec 9. But unlike many of his international counterparts who have set up shops here to capitalize on the boom in the number of wealthy individuals, Mentasti was just here to demonstrate to the local audience what “the true taste of Italy” is really about.
Executive chef of the acclaimed La Gallina in northern Italy’s Gavi region, Mentasti in 2014 joined the ranks of the elite when the restaurant was awarded the highly coveted Michelin Star. His credentials meant that the tickets to his exclusive nine-course dinner in Shanghai, which was priced at 588 yuan ($91), was sold out weeks ahead of the event.
Hosted at Italian restaurant Sale & Peppe, considered to be the establishment that popularized wood-oven baked pizzas in the city, the cozy event attracted a crowd of about 50 diners who got to witness firsthand the Italian maestro’s culinary prowess in producing dishes like bresaola (air-cured beef), Catalan-style lobster and fried ricotta, which is difficult to find in Shanghai.
The 31-year-old chef, who claims that he possesses an “inborn penchant for risotto”, also wowed his guests with a refreshing take on the popular Italian dish by focusing on the most innocuous yet most important of ingredients — the rice.
Instead of using cream, Mentasti relied on a combination of cheese, milk and fresh eggs to induce a distinctive aroma in the dish, which was topped with a lightly seared piece of foie gras.
“There seems to be an overdose of cream on rice and noodles at Italian restaurants in China and around the world,” said Mentasti, whose father and grandmother run a food business in his hometown of Varese in northern Italy. “The essence of Italian traditional cuisine lies in the original flavors of the raw materials used, instead of using much sauces and spices.”
Wu Jian, the owner of Sale & Peppe, conceded that many Italian restaurants in Shanghai serve fare that is tweaked to suit the local palate. He also noted that one of the biggest challenges faced by Italian restaurants in Shanghai is the lack of easy access to ingredients, spices, and quality dairy products.
Wu, who had lived and worked in Japan as a chef and a restaurant manager for more than a decade, said that handmade egg noodles, one of the nine courses on the special menu, as well as the cream-free risotto with foie gras will soon be regular dishes on the restaurant’s menu.
Massimo Mentasti's cream-free risotto will soon be available at Sale & Peppe. photos provided to china daily.
- More aid from China set for Syria
- Japanese journalist reportedly being held in Syria
- New York City has warmest Christmas Eve on record
- One dead as fight leads to fatal shooting at North Carolina mall
- Trump's lead bodes well for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid
- Spanish Socialist leader insists no support for Rajoy
- China's top scientific achievements in 2015
- Yearend 2015: A picture and its story
- Christmas celebrated across the world
- HK car show kicks off during Christmas season
- 10 major economic policies that will make a difference on lives
- Santa Claus is busy in China
- Yearend 2015: Heartstopping images captured by daredevils
- Girl becomes youngest Master of Memory
8 highlights about V-day Parade
Glimpses of Tibet: Plateaus, people and faith
Chinese entrepreneurs remain optimistic despite economic downfall
50th anniversary of Tibet autonomous region
Tianjin explosions: Deaths, destruction and bravery
Cinemas enjoy strong first half
Today's Top News
Shooting rampage at US social services agency leaves 14 dead
Chinese bargain hunters are changing the retail game
Chinese president arrives in Turkey for G20 summit
Islamic State claims responsibility for Paris attacks
Obama, Netanyahu at White House seek to mend US-Israel ties
China, not Canada, is top US trade partner
Tu first Chinese to win Nobel Prize in Medicine
Huntsman says Sino-US relationship needs common goals
Geared to go
The place to be